Mental Health and Poetry – C. Cimmone
Mental health awareness has increased with the help of the pandemic, but we still treat it like politics and religion: Don’t bring it up at a dinner party. The stigma is slowly being crushed with Mental Health Month, Suicide Prevention Awareness month, and numerous other calls to action for mental health awareness. Celebrities have helped, speaking up about everything from postpartum depression to eating disorders. While the world struggles to address mental health, those of us suffering daily with mental illness are left floating in the abyss. We fight with medication, with relationships, and with ourselves. Luckily, some of us learned how to channel some of this pain into art. Poets across the world are penning hard-hitting poetry, but even more noteworthy – they are publishing them for all to see.
I tried running from depression and anxiety for years. I took pills, tried drugs, drank, and I tried doing too-much of a few of those. I tried out mental facilities, support groups, and SSRIs. No matter what I did, I still felt ashamed and embarrassed about checking that DEPRESSION box on paperwork. I felt alone. I felt dirty. I felt like a stranger in my own skin. One afternoon, in the middle of a busy grocery store, I got a call that my estranged partner of ten years was killed in a police stand-off. I managed to scrape myself off of the floor and get home. I wanted to scream my pain into the atmosphere. I wanted to document this pain for future use – to somehow remind myself that this is the bottom and anything above this is manageable. I wrote a few lines and submitted a free-verse poem to a literary journal. This poem was picked up and published – it was my very first published poem. I’d never considered myself a poet; and it was in this moment that I realized poetry is much, much more than I’d previously considered.
Sharing Poetry with the World
Sharing deeply personal work can be difficult. Yes, the public has access to your ‘diary’, but friends, colleagues and even family members get to put their eyes on your words. Will they judge you? Will they disown you? Maybe. That’s a fight I’ve had many times so I’ll save you some time: If your mental health negatively impacts them, they don’t need to be in your Contacts list anyway. What you will find is that people will relate more than they will disown you. They will likely thank you for publishing such sensitive work, because now they don’t feel so alone as they, too, struggle with mental health every single day.
Are you a neurodivergent poet putting your mental health focused work out there? Let’s talk.
The Medicated Mic interviews are conducted via written and spoken word. I want to hear about your struggle and how poetry came in and changed the way you manage your mental health. We will talk about a few of your most powerful poems and dive into anything and everything poetry related.